Shepard's Bush, London
DS Christopher Head
DC David Wombwell
PC Geoffery Fox
Date of Birth:
12th August 1966, At about 3:15 p.m. the
car turned into Braybrook Street, bordering
Wormwood Scrubs Prison.
The officers spotted a
battered blue Standard Vanguard estate van parked in the
street with three men sitting inside it. Since escapes
were sometimes attempted from the prison with the
assistance of getaway vehicles driven by accomplices,
the officers decided to question the occupants.
DS Head and DC Wombwell got out of their car and walked
to the van, where they questioned Witney about the lack
of a tax disc. He replied that he had not yet obtained
his MOT certificate. DS Head asked for his driving
licence and insurance certificate; noticing that the
latter had expired at midday, he told DC Wombwell to
write down Witney's details and walked around to the
other side of the van. as he did so the front seat
passenger, Harry Roberts, produced a Luger pistol and
shot DC Wombwell through the left eye, killing him
DS Head ran back towards
the police car, but Roberts ran after him and, shot him
in the head.
John Duddy, the back seat
passenger, also got out of the van, grabbing a .38 Colt
from the bag next to him (which also contained a third
gun). He ran over to the police car and shot PC Fox
three times through the window as he tried to reverse
towards him and Roberts, who also fired several shots.
As he died, Fox's foot jerked down on the accelerator
and the car lurched forward over the body of DS Head,
who was already dying of his wounds.
Duddy and Roberts got back into the van and Witney
reversed rapidly down a side street and drove away at
speed. However, a passerby, had written down the
registration number, PGT 726.
Witney, the van's owner,
was arrested at his home six hours after the killings.
Following a tip-off, the van was discovered the next day
in a lock-up garage rented by Witney. It contained some
spent .38 cartridges and equipment for stealing cars.
Initially Witney pretended that he had sold the van to a
man in a pub, but confessed on 14th August, admitting
what had happened, and naming his accomplices.
Duddy had fled to Glasgow, but was arrested on 16th
Roberts hid out in Epping Forest to avoid the manhun, he
avoided police capture for three months. A £1,000 reward
was offered for information leading to his arrest. He
was finally captured whilst sleeping in a barn at
Blount's Farm near Bishop's Stortford after hiding in
the adjacent Thorley Wood. Roberts was familiar with the
area as he had been sent there as a child evacuee
earlier in his life. At this time, there were lots of
sightings of Roberts, who had actually been eating
regularly in a cafe right next to Bishops Stortford
12th December 1966 Roberts admitted firing the
shots that killed Detective Sergeant Head, and Detective
Constable David Wombwell.
He denied murdering PC
Geoffrey Fox, as the shot had been fired by John Duddy.
Duddy and Witney denied all the charges.
All three were found guilty
of murder and possession of firearms and each was
sentenced to 30 year in prison.
Duddy died in prison in
1981. John Witney, was released in 1991. He was beaten
to death at his Bristol home eight years later.
transferred to an open prison. This was thought to be a
prelude to his release. However, he was returned to a
closed jail within months after allegations that he was
involved in drug dealing and bringing contraband into
28th September 2007,
Police raided the cell of Harry Roberts, as part of an
inquiry ordered by the Home Office into how secret
documents were leaked. Confidential letters and
statements containing allegations against Roberts were
sent to him in jail.
28th February 2009,
It is reported that Harry Roberts, now aged 72, has
completed the first part of his parole hearing, and
could be released soon. Social reports are being
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